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Integration of Water Electrolysis for Fossil-free Steel Production


This study investigates the integration of water electrolysis technologies in fossil-free steelmaking via the direct reduction of iron ore followed by processing in an electric arc furnace (EAF). Hydrogen (H2) production via low or high temperature electrolysis (LTE and HTE) is considered for the production of carbon-free direct reduced iron (DRI). The introduction of carbon into the DRI reduces the electricity demand of the EAF. Such carburization can be achieved by introducing carbon monoxide (CO) into the direct reduction process. Therefore, the production of mixtures of H2 and CO using either a combination of LTE coupled with a reverse water-gas shift reactor (rWGS-LTE) or high-temperature co-electrolysis (HTCE) was also investigated. The results show that HTE has the potential to reduce the specific electricity consumption (SEC) of liquid steel (LS) production by 21% compared to the LTE case. Nevertheless, due to the high investment cost of HTE units, both routes reach similar LS production costs of approximately 400 €/tonne LS. However, if future investment cost targets for HTE units are reached, a production cost of 301 €/tonne LS is attainable under the conditions given in this study. For the production of DRI containing carbon, a higher SEC is calculated for the LTE-rWGS system compared to HTCE (4.80 vs. 3.07 MWh/tonne LS). Although the use of HTCE or LTE-rWGS leads to similar LS production costs, future cost reduction of HTCE could result in a 10% reduction in LS production cost (418 vs. 375 €/tonne LS). We show that the use of HTE, either for the production of pure H2 or H2 and CO mixtures, may be advantageous compared to the use of LTE in H2 -based steelmaking, although results are sensitive to electrolyzer investment costs, efficiencies, and electricity prices.

Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Sweden

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